Policy Updates

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Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

South Korea announces new initiative to support COVID-19 response in partner countries

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) unveiled the 'ODA Korea: Building TRUST (Transparency, Resilience, Unity, and Safety Together)' initiative to support partner countries with COVID-19 response and sustainable development over the mid- to long-term.

According to a MOFA press release, the initiative consists of three key pillars: humanitarian assistance, health cooperation for priority partner countries and organizations on disease control, and socioeconomic impact response.

For health cooperation with priority partner countries and organizations, MOFA will implement a comprehensive COVID-19 response emergency support program worth US$29 million (KRW36 billion) this year. Target partners include Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Colombia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, and the Africa Center for Disease Control. MOFA will closely coordinate with the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare as well as implementing agencies for development assistance such as the Korea International Cooperation Agency and Korea Foundation for International Healthcare. 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

UN Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security prepares to push for stronger pandemic response by UN Security Council

The 'Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security' at the UN - co-chaired by Canada, Denmark, Sierra Leone, South Korea, and Qatar - held its second official meeting and discussed its activity plans for 2020. According to a South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, the group agreed to deliver its joint remarks at the Security Council High-level Open Debate on “Pandemics and Security” on July 2, 2020, with a coordinated message emphasizing the need to strengthen global cooperation and solidarity on COVID-19 response which is a threat to global health, peace, and safety.

The group also agreed in the meeting to reach out to the UN Secretary-General for the active cooperation of the UN secretariat and to hold a high-level event on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in September 2020 on global health and security.

Press release – South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korea announces US$76 million for COVID-19-related projects in 13 countries

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) of South Korea announced funds totaling US$76 million for COVID-19-related ODA projects in 13 countries including Ethiopia and Myanmar.

The project will be funded through South Korea’s concessional loan program, the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), as well as South Korea's trust funds with the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In particular, the ODA project in Ethiopia funded by the EDCF will consist of health sector budget support and provision of medical supplies.

The EDCF projects are part of a larger US$400 million support policy announced by the South Korean government to support partner countries with COVID-19 response.

Press release – Ministry of Economy and Finance (in Korean)

South Korea commits US$8 million for Sudan’s political, economic reform efforts

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has announced that it will contribute US$8 million in humanitarian and development assistance in 2020 to support Sudan’s COVID-19 response and socioeconomic development. South Korean officials also emphasized the government's support Sudan’s efforts for democratization and economic reforms and will continue to support the sustainable development of Sudan.

South Korea announced its commitments on June 25, 2020 at the Sudan Partnership Conference hosted by the Germany, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Republic of Sudan. Participants of the conference also announced a joint communiqué and pledged various financial contributions for Sudan’s development.

Press release – South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korean ruling party emphasizes humanitarian assistance and cooperation with North Korea to combat COVID-19

Speaking at a dialogue on Inter-Korean negotiations, members of the ruling Democratic Party of South Korea promoted South Korean provision of humanitarian assistance and cooperation on health and medicine with North Korea.

Democratic Party Parliamentary Leader Kim Tae-nyeon has requested that the government actively promotes humanitarian talks with North Korea to support North Korea’s COVID-19 response. The chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee also commented on the need to discuss with the UN on partially easing North Korea sanctions including humanitarian assistance, noting that the South Korean government was until recently discussing providing US$10 million of humanitarian assistance.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the UN only mobilized 5.6% of the target funding for North Korea's needs and priorities and 3.3% of North Korea's intersectoral COVID-19 response plan for this year. 

The Democratic Party currently holds all but one of 18 National Assembly standing committee chairperson seats, including the foreign affairs and unification committee, where both ODA and North Korean affairs are discussed and deliberated.

News article – YTN (in Korean)

South Korean government upgrades K-CDC to independent administrative agency

The South Korean government has announced that the Korea Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (K-CDC) will be upgraded from a center to an independent administrative agency after discussion and approval from the president’s office, government, and the ruling party.

The new K-CDC will still be affiliated with the Ministry of Health and Welfare but will retain under its purview many of the relevant research institutes including the Korea National Institute of Health as well as the research institute on infectious disease. The latter, which was the center for infectious disease control, will also be upgraded to a national research institute and will be the main agency dedicated to developing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. With greater authority over its budget and personnel, the new K-CDC will also try to improve the health and medical research and development process.

News article – Money Today (in Korean)

South Korea announces US$1.4 billion in expanded global contributions toward fighting COVID-19

The South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) unveiled its plan to expand South Korea's contribution to fight COVID-19 globally.

In addition to the commitment of US$100 million of humanitarian assistance announced by President Moon Jae-in at the World Health Assembly in May 2020, MOEF announced it will provide emergency support through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of over US$400 million. It will also expand the multilateral development bank trust funds for health and medicine to US$10 million from the usual US$2 million.

South Korea will also invest US$980 million (KRW1.2 trillion) to create a global fund dedicated to healthcare goods and services. It will provide a package of disease control assistance to the priority countries selected.

Finally, the South Korean government announced that it will actively identify and implement health projects related to its 'New Southern' and 'New Northern' policies.

Press release – South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry provides US$5 million to help ASEAN member countries fight COVID-19

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has tapped into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Republic of Korea (ROK) Cooperation Fund to fight COVID-19 in ASEAN member states. According to MOFA, the government has used US$5 million from the fund to promote COVID-19 response projects in 10 ASEAN member countries.

MOFA will also provide US$500,000 to support an ASEAN Secretariat project dedicated to supporting returning Rohingya refugees in Myanmar. 

MOFA contributes around US$7 million annually to the fund, which was established in 1990.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in emphasizes role of the Committee for International Development Cooperation in ODA implementation

During a meeting with the prime minister, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea emphasized the important role of the Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC) for systematic implementation and enhanced effectiveness of South Korea’s ODA, especially with the role of ODA becoming more important with COVID-19.

The CIDC is chaired by the prime minister and is the highest decision-making body on South Korea’s ODA. In mid-2017, President Moon ordered that CIDC strengthen its function as the control tower of South Korea’s ODA and comprehensively and systematically manage South Korea’s overall ODA. The framework act on international development cooperation was amended on May 26, 2020, to reflect this stronger role. The amendment will come into force in late 2020.

Press release – South Korean Office of the Prime Minister (in Korean)

South Korea pledges US$30 million at Gavi’s Global Vaccine Summit: 50% increase from 2015 pledge

At the Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in London on June 4, 2020, South Korea pledged US$30 million for the period of 2021-2025. This represents a 50% increase from South Korea’s contributions to Gavi of US$20 million for the period of 2016-2020 ($4 million annually). South Korea was represented at the event by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

In addition to the pledge, Minister Kang also discussed the Support Group for Global Infectious Disease Response (G4IDR) which was recently launched by South Korea to work closely with the WHO and other multilateral health initiatives including Gavi, Global Fund, Unitaid, Stop TB, and the International Vaccine Institute. 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

At Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders exceed funding target with historic US$8.8 billion

Representatives of 52 countries, including 35 heads of state, joined the June 5, 2020, Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise a total of US$8.8 billion in financing for childhood immunizations and vaccine infrastructure. World leaders, meeting with representatives of 12 organizations and corporations for the London-based pledging moment, hoped to reach a US$7.4 billion funding target. By the time the pledging ended, the target had been overshot by US$1.4 billion.

Against the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the global economy, attendees of the summit spoke passionately about the need for global cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, once developed, be accessible to all.

The US$8.8 billion will support Gavi's campaign to vaccinate 300 million children in the world's poorest countries against diseases including diphtheria, polio, and measles by 2025. Disruptions to Gavi's regular immunization activities, caused by COVID-19, have endangered an estimated 80 million children under one year old. The funding will also bolster Gavi's efforts in strengthening health systems in low-income states which have been ravaged by the pandemic and will help build out infrastructure to support the eventual provision of a vaccine against the virus.

A further US$567 million was also raised for 'Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines' (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument designed to provide access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine specifically in low- and middle-income countries.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “...When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

South Korea commits US$19 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced its plan to provide US$19 million in humanitarian assistance at the 'Virtual High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen' held on June 2, 2020.

According to the UN, around 80% of the Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance due to persisting internal conflicts. South Korea’s assistance will be used to help bolster the COVID-19 response, respond to food insecurity, and protect vulnerable groups in Yemen. In addition to this assistance, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been providing rice through the World Food Programme under the Food Assistance Convention.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

South Korea increases support for vaccine R&D, humanitarian assistance in third supplementary COVID-19 budget worth US$29 billion

The South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) unveiled the third supplementary budget to fight COVID-19 with a total of KRW35.3 trillion (US$29 billion). The stated objective of this budget is to help key industries recover from economic fallout due to COVID-19.

In particular, the government included in the supplementary budget its plan to further increase global humanitarian assistance by KRW23.8 billion (US$20 million). The government will also invest KRW111.5 billion (US$91 million) for research and development of COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines domestically. Moreover, KRW34.8 billion) US$28 million) will be provided for the production infrastructure for new medicines and KRW46 billion (US$38 million) for the strengthening of quarantine capacity and medical equipment. 

News article – Yonhap News

South Korean government commits US$15 million to Asian Development Bank’s Ventures Facility Investment Fund

The South Korean Ministry of Small Medium Enterprise and Startups (MSS) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) announced that they will co-fund the Asian Development Bank’s(ADB’s) Ventures Facility Investment Fund with a total commitment of US$15 million. The funds will come from both ministries, with MSS providing US$10 million and MOEF providing US$5 million.  

Newly launched by the ADB, the Ventures Facility Investment Fund will mainly invest in clean technology, financial technology, agriculture, health, and other sectors relevant to the sustainable development of partner countries in Southeast Asia. The fund will also target South Korean startup companies that wish to venture into the Southeast Asian market. The fund has characteristics of a social impact fund, in that it addresses not just profitability but also social values such as gender equality, poverty, and climate change.  

The target amount for the fund was US$60 million; in addition to South Korea, contributions came from Finland (US$22 million), the Nordic Development Fund (US$10 million), and the Climate Investment Fund (US$13 million). 

Press release – Ministry of SMEs and Startups (in Korean) 

South Korean development agencies discuss COVID-19 response strategy for partner countries

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH), two major development assistance agencies in South Korea, discussed their response strategy to COVID-19 with partner countries at an international conference on May 31, 2020 titled 'COVID-19, Global Impact and Alternative Prospects', organized by the Seoul National University Asia Center.

During a panel focused on the future of development cooperation in light of COVID-19, KOICA Director of Social Value Management Song Jin-ho discussed the need to increase global resilience against COVID-19 through the use of big data, including through systematic database management.

KOFIH Director of Global Development Cooperation shared his concern on the concentration of funding to COVID-19 leading to a lack of funding in other necessary health areas including maternal health, child health, and malaria. He also discussed the potential lack of leadership, weak governance and negative economic growth rate that may result in partner countries. He stressed the need to focus on comprehensive support for stronger health and medical systems for infectious disease response, rather than concentrating on specific diseases or sectors.

South Korea commits US$3 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan refugees, migrants

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that it will provide US$3 million in humanitarian assistance to support Venezuelan refugees and migrants during the COVID-19 crisis. 

South Korea made the announcement at the ‘International Donors Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in the Countries of the Region amid COVID-19’. held on May 26, 2020, and organized by Spain, the EU, UNHCR, and IOM. The conference aimed to mobilize global support and contributions to the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis response amid COVID-19. The conference resulted in total donor pledges of US$2.8 billion, including US$653 million in grants.  

This support is part of the US$100 million humanitarian aid commitment made by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020. So far, South Korea has distributed around US$23 million in total, with US$17 million through bilateral channels and US$5.5 million to WHO and UNICEF.  


News article – ReliefWeb  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean) 


South Korean development NGOs announce plan to provide US$50 million to 64 countries to combat COVID-19

The Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development (KCOC) announced its plan to provide US$50 million (KRW62 billion) to 64 partner countries to support their COVID-19 response. The plan, entitled the ‘KCOC appeal for the global community to overcome COVID-19’, is a detailed follow-up measure to the statement issued by KCOC in April that called for effective assistance for partner countries with weaker health and medical systems to fight COVID-19. 

Out of the total amount, US$25 million will come from KCOC’s own funds, with the rest coming from funds from external partners such as the South Korean government and private sector companies. The funds will include US$20 million allocated in Africa, US$23 million in Asia, US$6 million in Latin America, and the remainder in the Middle East. The total amount will be used to implement approximately 170 projects that target the prevention of infectious diseases, health and medical system support, and livelihood support for vulnerable groups. 

KCOC is an association of development NGOs implementing foreign assistance projects, with over 138 members located in South Korea.  

Press release – Korea NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation (in Korean) 

South Korea spearheads new UNESCO solidarity group on global citizenship education amid COVID-19 crisis

South Korea has led the establishment of a new group dedicated to solidarity and inclusion based on global citizenship education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The group will primarily focus on speaking up against inhumane acts and promoting international cooperation in the post-pandemic world. 

Entitled the ‘Group of Friends for Solidarity and Inclusion with Global Citizenship Education (GCED)’, the inaugural members include South Korea (chair), Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Serbia, and Senegal. 

According to the South Korean government, the group was envisioned as an avenue to address increasing hate, stigmatization, and discrimination amid COVID-19. The group issued a joint statement to this end and stressed building global mutual trust, collaboration, and cooperation based on the principle of human dignity. 


Press release – South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs 


South Korean Research Investment for Global Health Technology Fund emphasizes global solidarity in supplying COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries

Chairman Moon Chang Jin of the South Korean Research Investment for Global Health Technology Fund (RIGHT Fund) emphasized global solidarity in providing vaccines worldwide for sustainable global health security, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

Chairman Moon stressed the importance of providing a sustained fund to infectious disease over a longer-term period. According to Chairman Moon, it is likely that a new infectious disease to emerge after COVID-19, and as COVID-19 has shown, the government budget is very much affected by the current events. However, he stressed that support for infectious disease control should continue even after COVID-19. He also mentioned the importance of private sector companies investing in infectious disease R&D, since such diseases will affect the private sector regardless of the industry. Lastly, he emphasized the importance of supplying COVID-19 vaccines at a lower price to partner countries, since health inequality and human rights issues will emerge due to differences in access once vaccines and therapeutics are developed. He stressed that the situation will be particularly more challenging for partner countries if vaccines are provided at a higher cost, and thus global solidarity and cooperation will be needed to help partner countries fight infectious diseases like COVID-19.

Established in 2018, the RIGHT Fund is dedicated to supporting global health R&D to address disease burden worldwide. It also provides funding to the development of vaccines as well as therapeutics and diagnostic equipment. The Fund is supported by the South Korean government who invested US$20 million (KRW25 billion) between 2018 and 2022 and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who invested US$10 million (KRW12.5 billion). During a call in April with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates announced the foundation’s plan to double its contribution to the RIGHT Fund.

News article – Kookmin Ilbo (in Korean)